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My Farming Week - David Blacker, York

David Blacker is a third-generation arable farmer and contractor covering 809 hectares (2,000 acres) in the Vale of York. David’s farm is also part of the AHDB Monitor Farm scheme.


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David Blacker
David Blacker

Fieldwork: It is the time of year when seasons merge together and with them, so does the workload. As we race to get harvest 2015 finished, planting is well underway for next year’s harvest.

 

Harvest: I currently have 121 hectares (300 acres) of spring beans still to cut in order to draw a line under the 2015 season. Yields have been exceptional. Cool temperatures, bright days and low disease levels have lead to the perfect growing season. The increase in yield will offset the decline in cereal prices which are currently falling faster than the late summer rain.

 

Planting: All oilseed rape has been planted. Establishment is not great, thanks to a localised thunderstorm which dropped 50mm rain, causing some soil capping and slumping. I have yet to apply flea beetle spray as damage has been minor and I think the plants will grow away from the damage. I am reluctant to apply insecticides which will also harm the beneficial beetles as they are doing a good job of controlling the slug population.

 

Wheat: Winter Wheat varieties have been chosen, with a mix of new barn fillers as well as some familiar, reliable varieties. I am now only growing first wheats. For me, winter barley and second wheats are not viable at current prices.

 

My rotation is winter wheat, oilseed rape, winter wheat, spring beans. This will hopefully be economically better, but does come with more risk.

 

No wheat has been planted yet. Soils in the Vale of York are predominantly clay loams over clay and are currently saturated after more rain. All pre emergence herbicides are now on stock.

 

I will apply them with a twin cap body using double 04 standard flat fan jets and I am increasing the water volume to 280 litres/ha. This will take more time, but should give better coverage of active ingredients.

 

Planning for the winter AHDB monitor farm meetings is well underway. We will be looking at soils and soil structure, gypsum use and cation exchange, plus farm security and business topics, such as when to have your financial year end.

 

Rural crime: Like many farmers, I have outlying buildings which are vulnerable to theft. Rural crime is a constant threat so I am using the opportunity as an AHDB monitor farm to get outside expertise to see what the best way of protecting my farm is.

 

We will hopefully have input from the police and insurance companies, as well as information on remote cameras and fuel monitoring systems.

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